Being Like Jesus; April 11, 2023

Luke 24:44-45 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

It strikes me that Jesus had a really good time during the 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension. The cross was behind Him, He no longer had physical constraints on His activities, and He got to spend time with these people He really, genuinely loved. He’d lived with them 24/7 for over three years, and now they had been through enough that they could begin to absorb some of what He had been pouring into them. I’ve always been a bit amused at His having to ask for something to eat in order to prove He wasn’t a ghost, and I imagine He was, too. He and the Father had deliberately left the wounds in His hands, feet, and side as further evidence He wasn’t some sort of “body double,” but I don’t think those wounds gave Him any pain at all at this point. I personally think He enjoyed His ministry all along, but now that the cross was taken care of, everything left was enjoyable. I was greatly blessed several years ago to watch Matthew from The Visual Bible, that takes the straight text and has people act it out. (We have it on VHS tape, which indicates the age!) One thing I especially like about it is that the actor playing Jesus was a dedicated, Spirit-filled believer, and he prayed earnestly for how he should play the role. As a result, it comes across that Jesus is delighted to be who He is, doing what He is doing. When a leper is healed, you can’t tell whether the leper or Jesus is happier about it! I think sometimes we get the wrong idea about what it means “to be like Jesus.” We sing those words in various songs, but much of the time I don’t think we have any idea what that means. Jesus was serious, certainly, because he had a lot of very important work to do, but I don’t think for a minute He went around with a long face all the time. As I’ve mentioned before, Josephus recorded that Jesus had some pretty wide mood swings, weeping over Jerusalem one minute and rejoicing over someone’s faith the next. To be like Jesus, we too need to face evil unflinchingly, but at the same time rejoice in God’s grace, His victory in which He has given us a part.

One of the many statements by Dennis Prager that have blessed me is that we have a responsibility to be happy. It’s not that he ignores evil or that he wants us to, but as a devout Jew, he says that belief in a loving Creator essentially requires optimism. My title for both of the messages I preached at Easter this year was Joy, and I really do believe God desires that for us. Paul famously told us in more than one of his letters to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) I think that’s precisely what Jesus did, and I indeed want to be like Him! I am not to be flippant, or make people think their suffering is unimportant, but I am to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21) If I will do that, then people will be drawn to Christ through me, for their salvation and His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. There’s a lot here I believe You want me to communicate to the believers. I ask for clear guidance so that it may be Your Word indeed, accomplishing that for which You send it, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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